Friday, January 31, 2014

Blizzard Bag

I was talking to our oldest child Matthew last night and he told me about a project his school is doing to help students stay up with school work during this bad weather.  He said they were doing "Blizzard Bag," and I said what?  How do you spell that?  Blizzard Bag, an assignment a student does when they are out of school for bad weather.  School bag in a blizzard, I guess is what they mean.  Ohio law allows for 3 such days this year and their school board approved the program in time to activate it.

Governor Kasich is asking the legislature for 4 more days on top of the normal 5 calamity days allowed for Ohio schools.  These are usually snow days or water main breaks or electrical outages.  Do test scores go down with more missed days?  Research says no, it's when half the students are absent when the disparities in scores appear.

I looked at Matt's assignments and saw the apple didn't fall far from the tree.  If you read the links, his writing reminds me of mine, 40 years ago and even less than that.  When I used these kinds of assignments along with a strong hand's on lab experience, it seemed the students learned more.  Still the Supervised Agricultural Experience is one thing FFA has that few other groups do.

"SAE" is labor intensive for the instructor and parents, but leaves students with real world work experience.  The feeder pig and garden projects were two of the most popular among my students because most of them did not live on an active farm.

The SAE is performed beyond classroom hours so if Matt can motivate his students to work on their school work and SAE when they are not in class, they will learn more and perform better.

Better than video games, right?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Farro

I learned something new on a cooking show tonight.  These fellows down south were harvesting a grain that looked like wild wheat.  They cut the plants off at the top of the ground green with hand held sickles we had on the farm when I was a child.  Then they set it on fire and knocked the once green grain into a big tarp for old fashioned hand threashing with sticks and clubs.
"There is some confusion as to what farro is. Einkorn (Triticum monococcum), emmer (Triticum dicoccum), and spelt (Triticum spelta) are called farro in Italy, sometimes (but not always) distinguished as farro medio, farro grande, and farro piccolo, respectively.[2] Emmer grown in the Garfagnana region of Tuscany is known as farro, and can receive an IGP designation (Indicazione Geografica Protetta), which by law guarantees its geographic origin.[2] Emmer is by far the most common variety grown in Italy, in certain mountain regions of Tuscany andAbruzzo. It is also considered to be of a higher quality for cooking than the other two grains and is sometimes called "true" farro.[3]
Regional differences in what is grown locally and eaten as farro, as well as similarities between the three grains, may explain the confusion. Barley and farro may be used interchangeably because of their similar characteristics. Spelt is much more commonly grown in Germany and Switzerland and is eaten and used in much the same way, and might therefore be considered faro, as is épeautre (Triticum spelta), in France (where, like for faro in Italy, there is "petit", "moyen" and "grand" épeautre. Common wheat (Triticum aestivum) may also be prepared and eaten much like farro, in which form it is often referred to as wheatberries.
Farro is often confused with spelt, though it is an entirely different species.[4]"
I am familiar with einkorn, emmer and spelt but not farro.  "The three species are sometimes known as farro piccolo, farro medio, and farro grande, which are einkorn, emmer, and spelt, respectively.[2] While these names reflect the general size difference between these three grains, there are landraces of each that are smaller or larger than the typical size and cross into the size range of the others."
One of them made a "southern succotash" with fresh garden vegetables.  It looked healthy but it also looked delicious.
I will bet one reader knows what farro is but I for one had never heard of it.
Ed

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ten Steps To A Successful Garden

"Ten Steps to a Successful Garden:
Vegetables from the home garden are fresher, may have better nutrient values, and are often less costly than those sold in stores. In addition to providing wholesome, low-cost food, vegetable gardening is an interesting hobby, one in which the whole family can take part. Other advantages of gardening are that it provides healthful outdoor exercise, offers productive activity for retired, handicapped, or disabled persons, and is an excellent teaching tool for children.

To get the most out of your garden you should make plans early in the year and follow proper steps during the gardening season. The purpose of this guide is to help you plan and maintain a garden under Illinois growing conditions so that you will have an abundant supply of high-quality vegetables at harvest and (if you freeze, can, or store your vegetables) throughout the year."

It's been fun browsing my favorite vegetable seed catalogs.  Stokes, Gurney's, Henry Fields, the list goes on and on.  What is your favorite?

It won't be that long until we plant our lettuces and cole crops.  You wouldn't know it with today's record Arctic blast, but it really won't be long!  This is the time of the year I like to get the planter ready.  I prepared the soil last fall with lime and fertilizer and a cover crop.  All I have to do now is prepare the soil.

Most gardens are full tillage to control weeds.  Few people no-till their garden or use herbicides to control weeds so tillage and hand pulling and hoeing are the most common methods of weed control.

Since our sweet corn was on the south side last year, it will go on the north side this year.  Everything gets flip flopped usually so we are not raising the same crop in the same soil each year.  This is basic crop rotation.

The day of planting is most important.  I like to plant in a warm or warming soil so I watch the weather carefully.  We have never had a better crop than when we strike our rows, get on our knees and plant by hand, very carefully.  Work shoes are adequate to cover and compress the soil for good germination.  3-7 days before the next rain is ideal but usually doesn't happen.  Two days is minimum and a cloudburst the next day is a sure sign of replant.

Some watch the moon signs and they do work.  I tend to watch the soil and weather more and it seems to work out most times.

Just writing this makes me want to go grow more food.  The taste is "in the pudding" and it is on the counter top thawing out.

Ed

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What We Eat

"You are what you eat," and what we eat has changed over 200 years.  America is over weight and this piece gives a clue why that is.

"Of course, what we eat and exactly how we eat it in America is undergoing constant change. One example: For about three decades, each of us, on average, has eaten more than 200 lbs. of meat annually, but the makeup of the protein mix has undergone considerable change. Whereas in the 1970s we were downing about 90 lbs. of beef each year, in 2014 it probably will be in the mid-50s. At the same time, chicken consumption has soared, more than doubling to about 85 lbs. per person.

Another data point: In 1980, McDonald's opened its 6,000th restaurant. At the end of last September there were almost 35,000 locations worldwide. Change indeed.

We're now at a time in which our dining habits are constant grist for headlines, either to inform or mock — or both. You know the drill. We're not eating enough vegetables. We're eating too much sugar. We're all overweight. Meanwhile, farming practices and genetically modified crops are ceaselessly debated, and as some of us are aiming to eat healthier than ever, others are looking for the next zany burger or complicated flavor mash-up.

There are infinite ways to dissect everything there is to know about our eating, but we aimed here to capture a few interesting trends by way of the graphic below. This is merely a glimpse of the size and scope of the food universe – for instance, we don't get into the more than $600 billion in restaurant spending we now do in the U.S. or the fact that more than 40% of our food dollars are spent outside the home.

What we hope to do is give you a broad sense of how much of what we're eating every year. See if you find elements of yourself here. Are you eating more than 80 lbs. of chicken annually, or how about 112 lbs. of potatoes? Or maybe you are in the 5% or so of us who opt for the vegetarian lifestyle. How about spending — are you putting in excess of $4,000 every year toward food, or do you even track it closely enough to know? And how much of it do you think you spend at the roughly 1 million restaurants we have coast to coast?"

The graphics in this piece are pretty revealing.  We've become a fast food nation to go with our fast lifestyle.

Ed

Monday, January 27, 2014

Wheat Acreage Down

Even though all commodity prices are down, wheat acreage is down this winter, also.

"WASHINGTON — Winter wheat acreage estimates were well below projected trade ranges and could set the stage for increased corn and soybean acres.  John Roach disagrees and thinks corn acres could be down 5 million or more this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated winter wheat acreage of 41.892 million acres compared to 43.09 million in 2013 and 41.224 million acres in 2012.

Winter wheat acreage in Illinois is estimated at 740,000, down from 875,000 in 2013, but up from 660,000 two years ago.

The USDA estimated 430,000 Indiana winter wheat acres, 40,000 less than in 2013. Indiana had just 350,000 winter wheat acres in 2012.   Ohio is usually closer to a million acres but has been down to near this amount in recent years, too.  This year, 640,000 acres are reported.

Iowa saw a jump in winter wheat acres from 18,000 in 2012 to 30,000 last year. This year’s acreage is projected at 25,000.   I never considered Iowa a wheat state, but a corn and soybean state.

Kansas leads the nation in winter wheat acres with 8.8 million.   Even though Kansas is the Sunflower state, it's always been our number one wheat state.

 “Winter wheat can survive cold temperatures well as long as soil temperatures at the depth of the crown are not in the single digits for a prolonged period of time,” Shroyer said.

“Winter wheat typically has its highest level of winter hardiness in December and January,” he said. “Leaves on wheat exposed to very cold temperatures may turn brown and die back somewhat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire plant is dead. Soil temperature is a more important consideration than air temperature alone during the winter.”

In most cases so far, soil temperatures have not been cold enough to create concern for the wheat, Shroyer said. However, there are areas of concern, especially where soils are dry. For example, soil temperatures at the 2-inch depth reached 9 degrees on Jan. 5 at Scandia, in Republic County.
Will this cause some winter kill in those areas?

“It’s too soon to know, but the situation should be monitored—especially on terrace tops and north-facing slopes. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some damage to the wheat in parts of north central Kansas where soil temperatures were this low,” he said.

The bottom line is, it's a long time until wheat harvest and a lot will happen before then.

Ed

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Propane!

Propane is pro-pain this winter!  We have shipped record amounts of propane to China and other countries and have the lowest stocks since 1996.

"Midwest stockpiles are at their lowest for this time of year since 1996, curbing supply in a region that uses more of the fuel to heat homes than anywhere else in the U.S. Adding to the supply crunch, farmers in this region, which produces 32 percent of the world's corn, use propane heaters to dry their crops.

The country is shipping record levels of propane and propylene abroad, helping improve margins for producers but raising costs for farmers to dry their crops. Prices have jumped 51 percent in the past year, illustrating a side effect of exports even as shale drilling has boosted production of natural gas liquids, or NGLs, to all-time highs.

Farmers aren't the only ones facing higher costs. The Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's statistical arm, is forecasting that Midwest families who heat homes with propane will spend an average of $136 more this winter.  USA Today reported heating bills will be up almost 25% this winter, and we don't even know how long this is going to go on!  The good news is only 6% of Ohio homes heat primarily with propane and mainly in Morrow County.

What if this is a sign of winters to come?  Arthritis sufferers have been suffering bad in this weather.  Maybe more will move out of the already diminished Rust Belt?

Will propane prices discourage more corn acres this summer, too?

Ed



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kip Cullers

Someone put this link about soybean production that was produced in Missouri.  He refers to Kip not by name but by the distinction Missouri has for the world record soybean yield.  I would consider this presentation a very basic introduction into soybean production.  Compare that to what Kip told Pioneer:

intervals? Fertility program?
Kip: We rotate between corn and a variety of vegetable crops. We have not grown too many acres of soybeans before but last year's high yield in that crop has gotten me interested in growing more soybean acres. We have very little corn following corn. We use poultry litter for most of our P and K plus some of the N. We also supplement with ammonium sulfate through the pivots during the season.

Question: Have you ever experimented with a non-lethal dose of dicamba on soybeans?

Kip: Yes, I've experimented with a trace amount of dicamba on a very small area for observation purposes only. We applied dicamba, which is not labeled for use on soybeans, to see if we could shorten up the soybean plants while not hurting yield. The biggest challenge I have in my contest soybeans is the tremendous plant size. Large tall plants tend to lie over and that can lead to some plants being overshadowed by others. When the irrigated soybeans lay over early it can also lead to an increase in diseases, especially white mold.

We've been experimenting with several approaches to improve standability. One is to lower the seeding rate. We plant about 250,000 seeds per acre and from what we've seen, we don't want to cut it too low because we lose bushels. We also tried applying Cobra® on small soybeans to see if we could set back the top (terminal) bud and cause more branching and thus a shorter plant. This is also why we tried dicamba. We also tried clipping the soybeans to cut off the top buds to get more branching. All of these treatments were done on soybeans that were just over knee high and I think we need to do it earlier to achieve optimal results. I'm not yet sure which approach is best but I plan to experiment more next year. The clipping may have some application.

Some university researchers have indicated a possible benefit in yield by using a growth regulator herbicide such as 2,4-D or dicamba at an ultra low rate. The difficulty is not to over apply these products and to apply them at the right time. Currently, I do not recommend applying a growth regulator herbicide since I am only experimenting with them on a very small area to learn more how the soybeans respond.

Question: Next year I'm going to try planting soybeans into my fall planted wheat to see if I can get a double crop. I'm sure there will be injury to both crops. Any recommendations on a specific Pioneer® brand soybean variety, 15" or 30" row or where I can learn more about this before I try this on-farm experiment?

Kip: We have good results with double crop soybeans in my area. One thing we do when planting wheat is to plant soybeans right after harvesting the wheat. The University of Missouri conducted some tests in northern Missouri that evaluated row spacing on wheat and soybeans and planting soybeans in April into the wheat. The problem was that when they widened the wheat rows, the wheat yields went down significantly. During the three-year study, wheat yields were 9 bu./a lower in 15" versus 7.5" rows. Soybeans yields were better when planted earlier into the wheat. The 2003-2005 study actually found the best economic practice was to plant one full season soybean crop and not to go with the wheat/soybean combination. Crop prices will have a big influence and your location will make a big difference. I'm far enough south that we do just fine planting soybeans after wheat.

Question: Do you apply an in-furrow popup fertilizer at planting? Research I have seen recommends applying manganese with Roundup® applications, do you agree and what timing and products are advisable?

Kip: We do not apply a popup fertilizer on soybeans (or corn) because our new planter that we use for our contest plots is not set up to do this. Maybe this is something we need to look at in the future. We do apply micronutrients (including Mn) to the foliage several times during the season but have really not seen the "yellow flash" that is sometimes blamed on Mn deficiency in Roundup Ready® beans.

Question: The long racemes and high flower numbers depicted in various photos taken in your soybean fields are very impressive. Several factors interact to govern the total number of blossoms produced, flower retention, pollination and ultimately pod set. What agronomic practices do you think are exerting the most influence in terms of increasing flower numbers and pod set in your situation? Thanks for all you're doing to promote more intensive soybean management.

Kip: We feel a total systems approach on our maximum yield acres is necessary to maintain the high flower and pod counts required to reach our yield goals. It is difficult to determine which agronomic practices are the most influential. Planting the right soybean variety for your farm and minimizing stress on your soybeans are two practices every grower should utilize as part of their overall management to try to maximize soybean yields. Soybean plants have the potential to be very prolific. It is up to us to do everything we are capable of to protect the high yield potential of our crop.

Question: Foliar feeding fertilizer. Pros and Cons?

Kip: I use foliar feeding of various primary and micro-nutrients throughout the growing season. These are typically N and S plus Mn, Mo, Cu, Zn and B. My reason for applying these to my contest fields is simple. I want to maintain a high yield potential and I apply these nutrients to supplement the supply coming from the soil via root uptake. I don't put any P and K on with foliar applications but rely on soil applications of poultry litter to supply those critical nutrients. The only time I don't like to apply much of any foliar sprays is during pollination. At that time, all I apply is irrigation water as needed to eliminate drought stress.

Question: Is it true that you spray pesticides on your crops that are off label, such as spraying Regent insecticide foliar? I have also heard you use vinegar as a foliar feed in soybeans. If this is true, what benefit does this provide?

Kip: We carefully follow all pesticide label instructions. We do use foliar applications of small amounts of vinegar, especially on our soybean crops. Not everyone agrees that this practice does anything, but I feel that it does help keep the soybean crop from growing too "rank". We do feel that the slight acidity of vinegar mildly "shocks" the plant to keep it blooming and setting pods without growing so tall. With our high levels of fertility and frequent irrigation, our main concern with our soybeans is excessive plant height and lodging.

Question: What is the most important foliar fertilizer fungicide that you feel should apply after pod fill has started? Also, you talk about ammonium sulfate as foliar, what does it do to benefit the plant? Also, at what rates to apply? How often?

Kip: We apply a mix of foliar nutrients including N, S, Mn, B, Zn, Cu and Mo. We feel they are all important in making sure no nutrient is limiting plant growth. Since N is used in the largest amounts by the plant, you could say it's the most important. We put on about 5-10 lbs of N from ammonium sulfate per application. Fungicides are also an effective tool in limiting plant stress. We do rotate active ingredients if we make more than one fungicide application to the same crop. This keeps the plant pathogens from becoming resistant to a single fungicide.

Question: Have you ever experimented with two fungicide applications?

Kip: We typically make two fungicide applications on our soybean fields. The high moisture conditions due to frequent irrigation lead to an environment that is very conducive to disease development. The first application is made somewhere near R2-R3, followed by another application later in the season as conditions demand.

Question: We are only in the beginning stages of farming furrow irrigated soybeans. We have not found a more scientific way of applying the correct amount of water other than just trial and error. We have several very different soil types in the Mississippi Delta, ranging from alligator clay to commerce silt. Can you offer any insight?

Kip: I use pivot irrigation to water corn and soybeans in my operation. I water soybeans frequently using a low volume to keep the canopy moist and cool. For more information on furrow irrigation, I suggest contacting your local Pioneer sales professional.

You may also want to look into a program called FAUCET. This program takes into account soil texture, slope and row length. Knowing these variables, growers can punch different sized holes into the poly pipe so that each row receives equal amounts of water. Keep in mind, where there are wheel tracks the water will flow down faster since this soil area is more compacted. Some farmers will punch smaller holes where there are wheel tracks while others ignore that variable. The different diameter hole makes furrow irrigation very efficient on fields with different row lengths.

Phil Tacker, an irrigation specialist from the University of Arkansas, takes the FAUCET program one step further. He views each field with either Geographic Information Systems technology or Google Earth. Using this information, he puts down multiple sets of poly pipe so that at the water source, where different runs of poly pipe are attached, no plugging occurs. This ensures that each run of poly pipe is fully pressurized and delivers equal volumes of water to each furrow.

Below are two links to Arkansas and Mississippi Extension websites. Both cover furrow irrigation and you may find them helpful.

Question:Can you talk about gray leaf spot? It has seemed to set in earlier then other years. Remind me what or if anything can be done at this point. Last year I had it but seemed to still have very good yields. Did I lose yield and really not know it.

Kip: Gray leaf spot is not a problem for us in our corn fields because we use one or more fungicide sprays to control all corn leaf diseases. Fungicide applications after the blister stage to control GLS may be too late to be cost effective.

Question: How is the best way to determine which part of your soybean field to harvest for your highest yield? What nutrients do you think have the greatest impact on high yields? What Pioneer® brand soybean variety is the highest yielding?

Kip: I pick the top area to harvest the highest yielding soybeans by planning ahead and planting the contest entry in the best possible field. My soil is pretty well drained but I make sure not to pick a poorly drained area. The other thing is to scout fields often for diseases and insects throughout the season. By doing this, I have a good idea of the best area. The Missouri contest requires harvesting two continuous acres so I need to have a good idea going into harvest.

There are a number of nutrients that are very important for soybean yield. I don't think a lot of folks realize the fertilizer needs for soybeans are as high as they are for corn and they are really higher for nitrogen and potassium. To achieve 60 bu./a soybean grain takes about 240 lbs. of nitrogen, 50 lbs. of phosphate and 84 lbs. of potash. Compare that to 200 bu./a corn grain that uses 150 lbs of nitrogen, 74 lbs of phosphate and 54 lbs of potash. Soybeans fix nitrogen but they are not that efficient at it and to get the very highest yields, more nitrogen is required. That may not be practical in general conditions. Soybean potash requirements are higher than corn and it is very important to keep good potash levels. I also want to make sure to use a foliar mix of boron, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. I've found there isn't just one factor to achieve high yields. Instead, a grower needs to have a complete, well balanced fertilizer program.

Question: I'm intrigued by the benefits of this humate product that I read that you have used. Have you been able to document an increase in soil organic matter with it's use? How did you apply it?

Kip: We apply several hundred pounds of humate product each fall as a soil broadcast application. This amount contains a small amount of carbon compared to what is already in the soil's organic matter so we have not been able to measure a change in soil OM yet. The reason we use it is because of its other nutrient release characteristics.

Question: Where do you get the humate powder you use?

Kip: The humate is mined in South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Florida and other locations. I recommend searching the Internet for more information.

Have you tried any of Kip's ideas?  I have, there are some money making tips in this text.

Ed

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fertility On The Offense

We talk a lot about soil fertility on HyMark High Spots.  This piece from Ernie Flint in Mississippi, describes what I've learned.

"For years I have been looking for a common denominator that would offer a clue as to why some of the corn does not produce more than about 120 bushels per acre even in a good year while only a few miles away growers on similar soils produce 150 or more. On occasion these higher yields reach 180 or more during the exceptional year with good rainfall.

The only idea I have been able to pull from this situation is that producers with higher yields stay ahead of the curve on their liming and fertilization, allowing their corn to have easier access to nutrients. Instead of trying to keep soil pH above 5.5 they maintain it consistently above 6.2.  Instead of trying to keep MSU soil test phosphate and potash levels at 50 and 120 pounds per acre, they keep these levels near 110 and 300 or higher. They also make sure that secondary and minor elements like Zinc, Magnesium, and Sulfur are not in short supply.

Those who have access to poultry litter go beyond these levels, their challenge being how to keep potash up to ratio with phosphate. And another “secret” to this is that higher yields usually come from fields where growers have been staying ahead of their soil fertility needs for several years. The change does not seem to occur in one year, but is the result of long term soil building. In these well-fed soils nutrients move deep into the profile to feed roots wherever they go.

I became convinced this might be the answer to my question when I noticed that one of the most productive cotton producers in the area made 160 bushels on corn that was planted for rotation. These fields were in the middle of an area where corn yields usually top out around 100.   His aggressive fertility program looked like the key to the lock, and it agreed with what I had seen in other areas."

When it comes to soil fertility, I've become a lot more offensive and am in a position where I can afford to be.  That's the best defense I have for a good crop.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, January 23, 2014

He Bought A Jeep!

Sable the German Shepherd has a buddy.  He bought a Jeep!  Thanks for the funny from our friends in Quebec.

Actually, we have been looking at Jeep's and will be driving one on a rental next month.  LuAnn's Buick Rendezvous is getting near it's end of service for us so we are thinking about a substitute for it.  It needs to be taller and roomy yet get good mileage with longevity.

I really enjoy the Dakota frame so I was thinking about a Dodge Durango.  I know at least one of our readers here got great service out of his.  I posed my question in the Café and got positive response.  Ag Talkers like Durango's in general.  Edmund's was suggested and they give the Durango good reviews.

There is so much competition in that size vehicle, LuAnn has leased the Traverse and the Acadia and she liked them both.  They meet our requirements except for mileage, they are a little hard on gas.  Not as bad as my 2500 HD pickup but not as good as the Rendezvous.  It has been consistently 20 MPG or so over it's lifetime.

What do you folks drive for your "family vehicle?"  As empty nester grand parents we need more room than you would think.  LuAnn's car is often her traveling office with all sorts of work related stuff in the back if it's not carrying people or groceries.  Many of you are well versed in the foreign made vehicles, principally Japan, but we have never owned one.  Chevrolet or GM, Chrysler or Ford as been our primary vehicles.

I don't think she would have any problem getting used to the rear wheel drive again.  She drives the Dakota and Silverado with no problem but the drive and feel is definitely different than the Rendezvous.

I am hoping this doesn't happen this year but it may.  This whole discussion probably won't amount to a hill of beans when it does happen and she goes car shopping.  I never even knew what a Rendezvous was when she brought this one home!

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How We Got What We Have

I found this in NAT's Boiler Room of all places!  I am watching right now while I type this blog.  It's a series by Inland Steel called In Our Hands.  The first of the series is named "How We Got What We Have."

I would encourage everyone to watch this.  It reminds me how I was raised and how far our society has wandered from these basic principles.  How in the world did we get here?  You can blame the 60's, you can blame drugs, you can blame the pill.  It was all personal choice, just like the Romans did 2,000 years ago.

I am getting old enough I miss the way things were when I was a kid.  Technology is great and less physical labor is nice but now people spend more time in the gym and the psychiatrist's office then grandpa did in the field.  It just doesn't make sense.  Just look how people responded to this film!

"We have come to accept this acrid, pessimistic climate as a fact of life. But it wasn't always. That's one of the reasons that so many Americans of a certain age look back with yearning to the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

He endures in memory not only as a president but as a symbol of a time of comparative unity, hope and confidence. His assassination was a tragedy, but it was also a harbinger. What lay ahead, as Americans now know, was an unraveling of our civic fabric, which has not been and may never be restored.

In 1958, when asked if they trusted the federal government to do the right thing most of them time, 73 percent of Americans said they did. Today the figure is just 19 percent. When Kennedy called on his fellow citizens to ask what they could do for their country, they were inclined to take him seriously. Political leaders no longer make such requests because they know what sort of reception they would get.

What was so different about that era? One reason for the general assumption that the government was capable of overcoming big challenges was recent experience of it doing just that."

That was a poor assumption.  We should have never let government get so big or depend on it so much.  We could argue our misgivings until the cows came home but it wouldn't change a thing, would it?

I found the old films interesting and hope you do too.  I sure want my grandkids to read this someday when I am long gone.  I will do all I can to help them until then.

Ed Winkle



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Diary Of A Pest

What are the worst pests on your farm?  Marestail continues to be my worst pest with pigweed, Giant Ragweed and foxtail close behind.  Here is an interesting piece on the main pests in the Northeast called Diary of a Pest.

Fortunately, weeds are my worst problem.  I don't have much trouble with insects or disease.  I credit my crop rotation, my soil health and fertility for that.  Weeds love that environment too, though, so I am always battling weeds.  Last year most fields got sprayed 4 times just to control the weeds.  I can't stand weeds, especially in no-till with no cultivation of the soil.

Maybe this is why Bt corn or traits never paid for me?  LL soybeans was the most successful GMO I ever planted but the cost was more than my non GMO soybeans which I was able to sell at an even better price.

What's the worst pest on your farm?  Besides the Marestail and Giant Ragweed and pigweed, we have areas of poison hemlock and now Johnsongrass on the new farm that really need close attention.  Our Kawasaki Mule and tank sprayer get a good workout.

Still, I feel I need to spray herbicides all four seasons or four times per year.  That's hard to do when you depend on cover crops like I do.  Cover crops can make up for that one spray if I get a good seeding.  Most herbicides are only good for 30 days or so, so I depend on some kind of canopy to control them the rest of the year.

Speaking of diaries, a good set of records help me see what I have done and what I need to do.  I need them for safety reasons anyway, but they are more valuable to look back and see where we have been and where we are going.

How about you?

Ed

Monday, January 20, 2014

18 Years

Here is a good reason to put off retirement as long as possible.  "The average retirement lasts 18 years," according to these statistics.  None of us are average but our statistics make these averages.

That means if a person can put off retirement to age 67, they may live to be 85 like mom and dad did.  To most farmers I know, this doesn't mean too much because most of the ones I know don't talk about retirement until circumstances are such they have to consider it.  I like the planning we've already done and we keep modifying our plans each year as circumstances change.

Seeing what my brother in law has went through the last month has made me think.  It's made us both think as LuAnn has worked hard to get his affairs in order whether he lives 2 years or 20 years.  He works for a school district like I did in my public service years and the best thing we have is our health insurance and benefits.  The Affordable Health Care Act is changing those benefits and the unknown is a little scary.

The farm has kept me fairly busy since I retired in 2002.  We have been able to earn more than if I would have taught another 4 years and maxed out my pension.  It's given us time to travel around the world and that is something LuAnn and have enjoyed very much.

What we do with our estate is another thing.  We've decided we want to stay on the farm as long as humanly possible but we want to travel to warm climates in the winter.  My arthritis is pretty much nil in warm climates and that changes both our attitudes in a positive way.

We will be learning how to pass on our estate more this year.  We have a good base plan but now we have information on how to add to it and make our wishes come true.  We will also lessen the burden on our children when we get ill and pass on.

Nothing substitues for good health so that's our primary goal.  We try to eat right and get enough exercise.  We keep our faith strong and try not to worry or get anxious.  I've been there and it's no way to live.  That's the best benefit I've learned these past 8 years as I learn I can't physically do what I did before then.  Sleeping well and enjoying some peace of mind can't be measured in dollars or numbers of years.

I might ask you, how are your plans going?  I assume most of my readers have good plans, even better than mine.

It's something to think about on this cold winter's day.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Herman Warsaw Revisited

I read a post about how impressed someone was with Fred Below's presentation at NNTC.  Every time I see his name I think about how he can't produce the yield Herman Warsaw did on Herman's farm.  It's funny I was pondering the same thing a year ago!

Herman was quite a guy.  Everyone who met him liked him and respected him.  He broke the world record for corn production with 338 bushels per acre in 1975.  He beat us by 100 bushels, we figured the difference was just in our soil and weather.  Actually, I've since learned there is more to it than that.

I was impressed with 274 bushels per acre last year and have quoted that quite often since harvest.  Herman averaged that over 15 years!  Are we just getting back to where Herman was  40 years ago?

What I am impressed most with Herman's methods was his observation of plants and soil and attention to detail.  I've gotten a lot better over my life but I will probably never be a Herman Warsaw.

Note his soil tests in ipni link.  Soil tests were acetate extraction then like we use at Midwest and A&L.  I wish we could see the saturation results from those tests but his numbers are so much bigger than mine.  I am probably 100 bushels behind right there if the right conditions do occur like they did here last year.

Here is a good review of the ammonium acetate soil test extraction.  There is a lot of good reading there that shows why many still rely on this method of chemical soil extraction for crop production.  I like the quote from Hill Laboratories in New Zealand, "Mehlich III enhances the soil test data!  Yes, I can't follow the "fudge" factor!

"The ability to estimate the fertility of soil and improve soil productivity and crop yields has intrigued mankind for centuries. Soils are dynamic in nature and their fertility status is known to change across time as nutrients are removed by the harvest of crops for food, fiber, and energy production, lost by leaching or runoff, or change in solubility/availability with time. Thus, accurate and timely assessments of a soils ability to supply nutrients to plants is needed to facilitate profitable crop production, prevent the accumulation or depletion of nutrients in soil, preserve environmental quality, conserve natural resources, and, ultimately, to insure that modern agricultural practices are sustainable.

Many scientist and observant stewards of the land have made significant contributions to our understanding of plant nutrition and soil fertility across time. However, to date, the most significant advances in modern soil testing technology have been realized in the 1900's by scientists who pioneered the early methods of rapid soil testing procedures and performed field research to observe and quantify the effects of fertilization rate on plant performance. In the early 1900's many Land Grant Institutions developed programs investigating the utility of soil testing. By the 1930's and 1940's, soil-test laboratories were being developed throughout the USA and services were being used by local clientele. Crop yields and agricultural productivity have steadily increased for the past 100 years making fertilization necessary to optimize crop production."

Herman may have not been a trained crop scientist but I think he forgot more than some of us understand!

Ed Winkle

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Do We Nip It In The Bud?

My friend Ray Archuleta, pretty well known soil health guru for NRCS sent me this interesting YouTube video of a school girl's science experiment.  Watch the video.  Are we nipping the potential of our food crops in the bud?

I don't farm certified organic but I think I am closer to it than most of my neighbors and peers.  Soil health and quality are extremely important to me because I am farming for profit.  I am farming for quality, too.  Our family consumes some of the crop we grow, though 99% of it goes into the open commodity markets.

I re-learned this the first year we moved to Martinsville Road.  I planted five acres of no-till sweet corn and enjoyed over 200 visitors who bought dozens of our sweet corn, green beans and tomatoes.  They told their friends and kept coming back all summer.  It was a lot of hard work but people really enjoyed our quality food crops.  I apply the same principles to my cash crops.

My first RR soybeans was in 1999 and one of the worst crops I ever grew.  They made 20 bushels per acre and had no defense against the dry weather that year.  They only had defense against weeds when glyphosate was sprayed on them.  The rest of my beans were Ohio Public Stressland soybeans and they made between 40-50 bushel in the same dry year.  I never tried RR soybeans again.

My whole farm was a test plot in 2004.  I had 30 corn hybrids across our main 50 acre field.  None of the GMO hybrids out yielded the non GMO hybrids.  I tried two other plots in later years with the same results.  That convinced me to stay all non GMO.

When the Asians pulled out of the US soybean market five years ago, I tried LL soybeans.  They yielded very well and I had excellent weed control but my non GMO beans for specific markets made more money, even with the extra chemicals I used.  On our farm, it takes the same amount of chemical to control weeds even if we are in RR or LL so non GMO is a no brainer for me.

The more I worked with other farmers, the more I saw the same thing.  Most of them don't want to give up their GMO and that's OK but those who produce higher yields or are simply satisfied with what they have.  If they make more money and are satisfied with what they have, great.  Many are not and I hear from more and more of you each year.

Are we nipping more than quality with GMO?  Are we nipping our profit too?

Ed Winkle

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Soil Health Test

Years of R&D and 14,000 trial tests have led to the launch of the Soil Health Tool, a new soil test offered by at least 3 labs across the USA, including Woods End Labs (Mt Vernon ME), Brookside Labs (OH) and Ward Labs (NE). The Soil Health Tool is “the next step” for labs already offering the Solvita test. The “Toolbox” has been under development by Will Brinton and Dr. Rick Haney (USDA-ARS-TX) and others since 2005. “It started by integrating soil biology in a manner adaptable to modern labs (Solvita), then expanded to include N-P-K in order to address farmer fertilizer issues”, according to Brinton.

Rollout meetings with growers and consultants during 2013 and early 2014 (PA, ND, OH, NE) have shown a very positive response that fits with the sense that there’s a new soil health movement that farmers are keen to participate in. On the lab reports, growers will see new terms such as “CO2 rate”, “microbial active carbon” and “water soluble carbon”.

These are used as indicators of biological factors linked to soil’s intrinsic nutrient supply powers. According to Haney (USDA ARS), “the methods use green chemistry, in that the soil analysis uses a soil microbial activity indicator, a soil water extract (nature’s solvent) and H3A, a soil extractant that mimics organic acids produced by living plant roots to temporarily change the soil pH, thereby increasing nutrient availability.” The end result of the new test is a rank called the Soil Health Score, “representing the overall health of the soil system. It combines 5 independent measurements of your soil’s biological properties” (Haney).

Ward Labs’ Lance Gunderson explains: “We have 3 labs in 3 differing regions collecting new soil health data, and that will help us understand regional potentials”.  And Brookside’s Dr Luke Baker: “We are very excited to offer the Soil Health Tool to our clients since soil testing methods are currently missing the biological component. With the Tool, we can include soil biology when estimating plant available nutrients. After analyzing hundreds of samples, we feel that this could be the missing link in soil plant nutrient analysis. There is still gathering calibration data (which we are currently doing), but the future looks bright.”

The Soil Health Tool is an open-source system. The main goal, Brinton says, is to “save farmers money on unneeded fertilization while at the same time taking stock on your soil’s health”. Samples can be sent to Woods End by clicking on the soil test link, or use the Soil Solvita map to find a lab near you.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Worst Job In The World

I read today that Career Cast ranked farming as one of the worst jobs in the world!  They ranked it at 190th best of of 200 careers!  Only nine jobs were ranked worse and I think newspaper reporter was at the top.

When you look at opportunity, working conditions, expense, income, stress, and similar things I can see where farming might come near the bottom.  I guess you have to be cut out to really do it.  That doesn't even consider the entry level which is very high.  We all know it takes help or a lot of money to get started.

We have eliminated 99% of the population actually farming much due to all these factors and more.  Things were a little easier when I was an ag teacher but still very difficult.  I helped 40 young men and women get started farming through agricultural education and the FFA.  They have done very well for themselves but it sure wasn't easy.

Alternative careers I like don't fair much better.  Agricultural scientist and conservationist both rank in the bottom 100 of best careers.  Biologist is ranked 70th and that's about the best job in the list I had any interest or ability in.

Did you choose the right career?  Would you steer a passionate young farmer away from his desire?  Those were hard questions for me to answer as a teacher.  I always thought the hardest part of being a parent, teacher or school board member was guiding a young person toward the right career for them.

I see many questions from young people on Ag Talk about how to get started farming.  Many had limited opportunity like I had.  Most of the posters give very wise advice but its usually "hard love," telling all the problems they went through and what young people can anticipate.

It's the grandest occupation of all to me, I never met a farmer that I didn't have some empathy for.  Many of you have done a super job and some have passed that down through their children.  I wasn't able to do that, it just wasn't in the cards.

It wasn't done for me either, and I don't regret it.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

States With No National Parks



We like National Parks.  We've been blessed to visit a ton of them, too.  LuAnn had two big wall plaques framed containing the brochure of all of the National Parks we have visited and some National Historic Areas, too.  Each one holds 26 brochures I think.  It's fun to look at them and remember all of the neat places we've been.

Which states have NO National Parks?  There aren't many but the Northeast is pretty devoid of National Parks, Acadia in Maine is about all I can think of.  I don't remember one in Mississippi, either.  Alaska is loaded with National Parks and the mountainous ones of west of the Mississippi, of course.

My top five or ten doesn't agree with National Geographic but so be it.  They list Cuyahoga National Park as one of the ten most visited and we haven't even seen it yet!  It's too close, it's in our own state of Ohio!  Glacier is still my favorite with Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain close behind.  I guess they fit my idea of a National Park best.

Here is a good article about what most people, including critics think are the best National Parks.  This is handy if you are just getting started or just want to see a few of them.

I would love to load the camper on the Silverado this summer and head west again.  I don't know if we will get to do that or not, there are so many choices and so many things that must be done.  There are many rarely visited National Parks that we have not seen but again most of them are in Alaska.  It would take all summer to do that right.

They are all unique and beautiful in their own way, every last one of them.  I don't know if we will ever see them all or not, but you won't be able to say we didn't try!

Do you like National Parks?  Which one is your favorite?  Which ones do you really want to see?

Ed

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bill Belichick

I heard "coach" from Pittsburg interview Bill Belichick before the New England San Diego game.  I always wondered what kind of guy he is, he looks like Obi-Wan Kenobe with his hood on the sidelines in bad weather.

"Belichick is considered one of the best coaches in NFL history, Bill Belichick was born William Stephen Belichick on April 16, 1952, in Nashville, Tennessee. The only child of Steve and Jeannette Belichick, Bill showed an early aptitude for the game of football, a trait he no doubt inherited from his father, a longtime assistant coach and college football scout.

Belichick studied how his father dissected game film and drew up plays, and often accompanied him to coaches meetings. By his early teens, Belichick was a regular part of the team's practices, and was well-versed in the game's schemes and formations.

After graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Belichick enrolled at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he played lacrosse and finished with an undergraduate degree in economics.

Following his graduation from Wesleyan in 1975, Belichick took a job with the Baltimore Colts for $25 a week, serving as a sort of gopher for head coach Ted Marchibroda. From there, Belichick hooked on with a number of NFL teams, including the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos, as he attempted to climb the league's coaching ladder.

In 1979, Belichick was hired by the New York Giants to coach the team's special teams unit. Belichick ended up staying with the club for 12 seasons, eventually taking over as defensive coordinator under head coach Bill Parcells, who steered the franchise to a pair of Super Bowl victories."

I was really impressed with what I heard.  Two good coaches were talking about their passion for football with all of its rewards and disappointments.  I would want either one in charge of my team but I would pick Belichick first.

Every human being has mistakes from the past and Bill's is not a small one.  In 2007, it came to light that the Patriots had, over several years, secretly video-taped opposing coaches in order to learn their play-calling signals. The incident, which came to be known as Spygate, resulted in Belichick being fined $500,000 by the league. The Patriots were fined an additional $250,000 and lost a first-round pick in the 2008

Still, Belichick is a winner to me.

Ed Winkle

Monday, January 13, 2014

Marauder

A farmer on Crop Talk asked today about the new ABM soybean inoculant called Marauder.

Grow More
Marauder™ Soybean Inoculant System is an all liquid bundle containing a high concentrate of America’s Best Inoculant® and liquid extender/polymer plus an additional liquid live biological performance enhancer. It drastically reduces seed bridging and sticking, especially when applied with seed fungicides or insecticides.

Bradyrhizobia

Marauder™ Soybean Inoculant System contains the same triple stack Rhizobia strain package found in America’s Best Inoculant®, for top yield responses. This strain package was developed by the best minds in Rhizobium genetics and is backed by research and scientifically proven test plot results.

Low Application Rate

Marauder™ for Soybeans has one of the lowest application rates available to keep treated soybean seed flowing. Only 0.725 fl. oz per 140k unit of soybean seed.

That is from the ABM website.  It's similar to Excalibre inoculant but is more farmer user friendly.  It has a growth promotant that Excalibre doesn't have.  Excalibre is the the one I've had my seed supplier apply to my soybean seed in the past.

Will farmers not inoculate this year to cut cost?  I don't think so.  Those few dollars invested have proved to have one of the best returns on investments of anything a farmer adds to his soybean crop.  A gallon of foliar fertilizer costs twice as much and has half the impact on yield.  That's my observation after working with both the past 30 years.

I am imagine I will get a lot of questions on this inoculant this week.  My email and phone is open. 

Ed Winkle

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Just Getting By

Most people I know are just getting by.  The average person is making less than they were ten years ago, especially if you consider inflation.  Though our balance sheet is bigger, our cash flow is tight.  We have been very blessed the past years, but there is always need for more cash today, especially trying to maintain an improve a farm.  You know my passion for soil quality.

This year looks to be a tough one, budgets are mostly in the red so we must proceed carefully.  Again we are blessed compared to most of our neighbors and most of the world, as families struggle to provide necessities.  I caught this piece this morning when I opened up this computer.  I can verify this is true as we work closely with many families and are continuously asked our advice on making important decisions.

Our children are easiest to answer as they have worked very hard to put away a year of two or more of salary in case of emergency.  The average American family does not have this.  The more I put God first, the more I see this.  My friend Eddie sent me the series he is working with in his church, family and community, I am second.  If you explore that website, you will find many good testimonies about finding peace and joy by not putting yourself first.

We live in a me, me, me society today and it's only natural to put me first.  We are bombarded with this message every day.  That was never healthy for me, though I fell into it as much as any human being.  Most of my readers act like they put others first so I am probably preaching to the choir.  If I am and my message can help someone in need, please pass this on to them.  When I hit a good topic, my readership goes from 100 to 1000 on just one blog.  That happened again this week.

I don't claim to be any better than anyone else but I am trying to be my best.  I realize I was created for a purpose and if I don't strive for that, I am not doing that part.  CVA said this about one of my posts on crop talk this week, "once a teacher, always a teacher."  That made me smile.

I hope you can all smile today.  I told a friend yesterday about getting out of the negative and into the positive as we shared our problems.  I said I learned to go to sleep some nights counting my blessings by assigning each letter of the alphabet to a gratitude I have.  A is for Arianna, B is for Bryn, C is for Corbin, Clair and Caoilin, E is for Emily Elizabeth, Mark Edward, Eric C and Erik B.  This list goes on and on.

I hope we can help each other to more than just "get by" this year, one day at a time.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Foreclosure

We have been working with another family to help them avoid foreclosure.  It's still a huge problem in the United States since the bubble burst in 2008.

At the peak of the problem, something like one out of seven homes were sitting empty in our area.  The DHL hub closure near us made national news and caused great hardship.  One of our children lives in a home that was lost during those foreclosures.  Ohio remains in the top ten states of foreclosure but you will be surprised what states are in those ten highest states.

A friend of ours lost their home last year and they were the type of people you would never think would have that problem.  I know it's possible it could happen to us but we are in much better shape today than we were a few years ago.

We took on a lot of debt so we could farm.  We enjoyed the high commodity prices but paid a big price to get there.  Now our inputs are still pretty high and our income is cut in half.  We never bought any new machinery so it's not a "paint problem," things just cost so much today.  It is really difficult to keep your production costs below yield and price and 2014 looks to be a big test.

This has been a major discussion point on Crop Talk. Many of us were never handed "the silver spoon" and had to make it from scratch.  That is very difficult to do in farming today but so far we've done it.  It was a late start for me but we have accomplished so much in the last ten years.  I am blessed to be able to do what LuAnn and I have done the past ten years.

That's why I enjoy agronomy so much.  There are a thousand different ways to raise a good crop and it can be done "on the cheap."  I think that is why so many email us, visit us, interview us and read our posts.  Soil health doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, it takes study and determination.  It takes thinking out of the box to not farm like we did 50 years ago when I was a teen.

Most of these high land prices were paid by well healed families who could afford to bid more for land, the base of farming.  Many were not and this year is going to be a real test.  Will the bubble burst again in agriculture?  I don't think we will have the terrible 80's problem we had but some will fall just as hard.

Let's learn how not to be one.  Financial management is key, producing more for less is a must.

Ed Winkle

Friday, January 10, 2014

What Is Wealth?

I like to read farmer John Burns' comments on Market Talk.  What he says just makes a lot of sense to me.  I keep wondering when our U.S. monetary system is going to fail?  No one knows but I like to keep up with what others think who follow the system much closer than I do.  Agronomy is my passion, not money.

But we all use money as a tool to live.  I've used more tool money the last ten years than I ever dreamed I would.  Larger scale farming requires that.  Farmers always looked wealthy with land and livestock and machinery.  After a lifetime of farming though, a farmer looks asset rich and was always cash poor.  There never is enough cash to do all the things that could be done but we try.

Stocks and bonds are a different beast, and different too.  Here is what John said about wealth:

"The question that comes to my mind is, "What wealth?"

Wealth is created by producing something that fills the needs of consumers. Financialization(does he mean the monetary system?) does not create wealth. In fact, it diminishes it in that the people promoting it are taking a cut while not contributing to production.

People that hold lots of government bonds might feel wealthy. But what are bonds? Are they real wealth? I would say that they are a paper promise to future wealth. They are a promise that at some future point taxes will be raised that will pay the bonds off. But what rate of taxation in the future can ever pay off the debt owed? Government bonds require FUTURE earnings to create tax revenues so that the earnings not only supply the then current government needs, but are surplus to the degree that the bonds can also be retired. So I would discount all government bonds as not being wealth at all. They are just promises to wealth in the future that the government has to be able to honor.

So a lot of bond holders that think they have wealth may be disappointed if the government can not meet its obligations (promises) or chooses to simply create new money out of nothing to pay them off rather than use real created wealth. In this way, the wealth is only a diluted portion of the original promise.

Stocks have value in that companies produce products and make a profit. The stockholders have a claim on this stream of profits from the companies. But if the price of the stock gets bid up for no other reason than the Fed has created huge amounts of new fiat money that the TBTF member banks then leverage up to prop trade, how lasting will this supposedly higher level of "wealth" be? Can the Fed ever live up to its promise of calling back in all the liquidity while stocks still stay at nosebleed prices? And if the Fed does not call it back in, eventually the additional base money will find its way into price inflation if the economy ever starts to pick up any speed and the banks start the fractional reserve lending money expansion again. How can the "wealth" be doubled in the stock market when companies are producing no more?

I think a big portion of what we believe to be "wealth" is no more than an illusion created by years of new money creation and years of financialization of assets. Like a game of musical chairs, only the one who sits down quick enough every time wins the game.

I think when we find the music stops, a lot of perceived "wealth" will go right back where it came from, thin air."

It's only John's opinion but I value that.  He understands the U.S. monetary system a whole lot better than I do.  A farm, now that is wealth to me!

Ed Winkle

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ten Most Fascinating People In Agriculture

I found this interesting article thanks to my soil sampling friend Dave Rahe in Illinois.  He writes "observations in agriculture."

I got to thinking who my ten most fascinating people would be when it comes to agriculture?

My list has surely changed over my lifetime but it would start with my dad and grandpa.  They were fascinating people to me and greatly influenced my life.  Our county 4-H agent Al Rhonemus and county ag agent, Jim Wells were very influential on my life.

Let's talk recent times, though.  The first one who came to mind is Paul Reed in Washington, Iowa.  That man taught me how to keep no-tilling and not go back to the chisel plow.  I was ready to do that in 1995 when I met him on Ag Online.  He introduced me to cousin Dave Moeller, the smartest guy on planters and combines I've ever met.    After a visit or two, he told me about Keith Schlapkohl.  I visited him and saw the healthiest crops I had ever seen.  They still are.  He has greatly influenced the way I farm and what I recommend.

He introduced me to Jeff Littrell, the mad scientist of chemical formulations and one of the most passionate people of life through agriculture I've ever met.  Jeff has introduced me to a whole host of people like Don Huber and Arden Andersen.  I shouldn't name names because the list will go on forever.

About the same time I met John Haggard on Ag Talk.  John has a view of me and of life and of raising crops like no one I've ever met.  For honesty and integrity, he reminds me of 24 year friend Leon Bird.  Leon is the most caring, honest man I've ever met.  He and Jeff introduced me to Scott Apple, one of the most fascinating farmers I've ever met and the father of sons like Henry.  Young men like Henry just make me smile.

I've been blessed to meet so many fascinating people, so many influential people, so many darned good down to earth people.  Most of them are involved in agriculture but agriculture is my passion.

Who would make your most fascinating people list?

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Farmers Rock

Here is a great list of reasons why being a farmer "rocks."

10.Outdoors – there’s nothing like the smell of fresh air, or even better, the smell of fresh cut hay!
9.Fun Equipment – What other job do you get to drive large tractors, combines, sprayers or anything else?
8. Weather – You always know the weather, even when you don’t want to.
7. You’re your own boss – Well besides mother nature – but she’s another story.
6. Job security – As long as there is land to farm and mouths to feed, Farmers will have the most important job there is.
5. Farming communities – There is no community like a real farm community. There are no strangers, just some people you might not know yet. When a Farmer goes down, the whole town is there to pick up where he, or she, left off.
4. No need to clean – You have an excuse to be dirty and stay dirty. As Will Rogers so eloquently said, “What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.” Dirty nails show more than dirt, they show work ethic, discipline and the most selfless workers the world knows.
3. Knowledge - Who else but a Farmer can tell you more about the weather than a weather man, more about a tractor than a mechanic and more about their land than anyone else.
2. The View- Your office has the best view of anyone – the outdoors, the fresh smells,  and the earth beneath your feet. What’s better than that?
1. The best part? You feed the world. There are not many other people who can say that about their job."

It's obvious to me whoever wrote this doesn't farm for a living.  Yes these all ring true but it only looks at the reasons farming LOOKS like it's fun!

Have you ever tried to build a self sustaining business from the ground up?  Have you ever lost income due to no fault of your own?  Have you ever even tried to take care of a herd of animals in sub zero temperatures?  I am sure my brother in law wasn't thinking about how great it is to be a cowman last night when his frozen fingers tried to help two newborn calves nurse on stubborn cows!

May of 2011 was no fun for me.  It rained 25 inches in two months and I lost most of my wheat crop and couldn't plant a new crop on time.

This year was a lot more fun with excellent crops and more than adequate rainfall.  The market prices slid all year and took some of that fun out.

It's funny how people perceive farming who don't do it for a living.  Heck, it's even funny how we who do it perceive ourselves and each other.  I do enjoy the casual nature of the business, I can even dress casual for church and be accepted by God and my neighbor.  I do like to dress up though, that's the way I was raised.

Farmers do rock though and my hat is off to you.  It isn't for the reasons listed above, it's because you have the passion to do something the world will always need, feed, clothe, house and fuel the world.

Ed Winkle